Review of 'The Years of Rice and Salt'

The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

This book poses the question “What if the plague had (essentially) wiped out Europe?” and follows the “rise of the east” through a series of wars against Islam and other various factions. The book is written as a series of ten shorter stories following the lives of various characters as the chapters proceed through history, beginning with the first story talking about the discovery of the death of Europe then the subsequent stories following the consequences. Each of these stories is complete unto itself and has a certain style making the read very interesting. A single unifying theme of re-incarnation appears throughout with an intriguing conclusion at the end. Robinson's discovery and development of North America I found particularly interesting and somewhat elating over the reality that has enfolded there in our world similarly the development of Japan is also particularly poignant. An interesting read that leans heavily on historical details and realistic characters which serves to bring Robinson's whole alternate world alive with reality. I did, however, did at times find the details a bit tedious and perhaps slightly patronising to me (the reader). For me, The Years of Rice and Salt does have the same magic and wonder of Robinson's Mar's trilogy or even his Antarctica but it is definitely a good read nonetheless.

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Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2002


Other reviewed books by Kim Stanley Robinson: